COLUMBIA – The Columbia Public Schools Board of Education will meet Monday evening to approve and extend the COVID Action Plan it instated last month.
On Aug. 13, the district announced its “2021-22 Coronavirus Plan," a 34-page packet outlining a plan for a "safe return to in-person instruction.” The guidelines, which included a mask mandate, went into effect days later on Aug. 16.
The instructions are all based on CDC recommendations and the most current science, according to the district.
“We have an entire page at the end of our plan that indicates all the people that we spoke to from pediatric virologists to our local health officials… we feel pretty confident that as part of a layered mitigation strategy this will help keep our students and staff in seat, in-person learning, with their peers and their teachers," Aurora Meyer, CPS Communications Manager said last month.
When school began on Aug. 24, CPS' 14-day case rate per 10,000 people was at 45.9. As of Monday, the rate was at 49.3.
The school board committed to reassessing the masking mandate on Sept. 15, which falls under the guidance of Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood.
"The Superintendent will make decisions about mask requirements in consultation with the Incident Command Team, the Columbia/Boone County Health Department, health and medical professionals and neighboring school district superintendents," the plan says.
Despite the plans to reconsider the mandate as new information and data develops, Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a class action lawsuit against school districts mandating masks, claiming them to be, “government overreach.”
The district stood by its decision in a statement saying decisions were made based on guidance and recommendations from local, state and national health experts, including the CDC.
“The decision to file suit against a public school district after a local decision is made in the interest of safety and keeping students in school will waste taxpayer dollars and resources, which are better spent investing in our students. Columbia Public Schools intends to aggressively defend its decision to keep its community and its scholars safe," the statement said in part.
Monday's school board meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Aslin Administration Building, with the COVID plan reassessment the last listed item on the board's agenda.